"The observance of Lent is the very badge of Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the Cross of Christ. By it, we avert the scourges of Divine Justice. By it we gain strength against of the princess of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss of their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God's glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted, but that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, public calamity, and of public woe.";
says Prosper Louis P. Guéranger, citing the exhortation of the Pope Benedict XIV; in his fascinating book - The liturgical year (pg.11)http://books.google.ca/books?id=u_UCAAAAQAAJ&pg=PR5&source=gbs_selected_pages&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
In a captive way explains the rigorous fasting rules of the primitive Church and their relaxations throughout the history.